Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Visit to Antwerp (Belgium) - Part II - Market Day

With commerce in its blood since first founding Antwerp, Belgium  has always been a city of markets. Even in the 16th century it was known as a "triomfelycke coopstad" (a triumphant shopping city). That mercantile fervor remains to this day, and the city hosts countless weekly markets, and several more themed markets each month.

If you happen to visit the beautiful City of Antwerp on a Saturday, do not forget to drop by the the so-called „International Exotic Market“ for some wonderful foodie treats. The market takes place every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at „Theaterplein“ (one of Antwerp’s biggest squares) and it is quite popular with the locals.ith commerce in its blood since first founding.

Many visitors gather to browse the different market stalls in search of special ingredients, wonderful spices, a good deal on vegetables or to eat something while visiting there. You will be able to choose from a variety of offerings such as freshly roasted coffee, teas, Moroccan pancakes, freshly chucked French oysters with a glass of champagne or white wine, Mexican churros, Vietnamese egg rolls, Dutch, French or Greek cheeses, Spanish or Italian hams, French dry-cured sausages, North African herbs and spices, nuts, olives or dried fruits, fresh pastas, breads and many seasonal fruits and vegetables. You will also find a goat farm offering a variety of cheese products. And different vendors selling mustards, jellies and jams or wonderful fresh as well as dried flowers.

There were very colorful bouquets of dried flowers – once you get them home safely, they will keep for quite some time.

A sign from "Heerlyk & Eerlyk Deli"  leading to this specialty vendor of mushrooms, truffels, balsamic vinegar, different oils, specialty foods and other seasonal products.

Défendons le goût du frais“. Hear. Hear.

Bunches of red grapes and homemade jellies and jams.

Different kinds of fresh pasta from „Pastaman - da´s pas pasta" - selling freshly made pasta with numerous flavors including spinach, basil, saffron, curry, paprika, tomato and many more. As well as pestos, tapenades and pasta sauces.

Bunches of carrot- and celery tops.

Small, oblong red and white radishes, red-skinned fresh onions and artichokes.

If you need a pick-me-up and maybe some pains au chocolat with your morning brew, you will be glad to stand in line at this micro-coffee-roaster called "cafeat8.com".


…and more cheese. Look, taste, smell, and then buy some.

Why bother with a menu – the writing on the tabletop indictes that a glass of wine will cost you 5 Euros, a bottle 25 Euros.

Colorful Moroccan earthenware – loved those tajine pots.

Greengages "Reine Claude" (my very favorite stonefruits - for my rendition of a famous recipe with these, you can take a look here), plums…

…and apricots.

Many visitors to the market take a well-deserved lunch break.

An array of green and black olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

Fresh oysters - shucked while you are watching and waiting - with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or maybe some tabasco sauce.

Cheese – as far as the eye can see.

More olives, and caper berries. And preserved lemons.

More shucked oysters and mignonette (finely diced golden shallots in aged red wine vinegar).

And some white wine to enjoy alongside the oysters.

Lots of different nuts and dried fruits, such as apricots, dates and plums.

Antipasti and capers.

Garlic and shallots and onions.

Tasting some saucisson, or "saucisson sec"…

...a variety of thick, dry cured sausage that originates in France. Typically made of pork, or a mixture of pork and other meats.

Baguettes galore.

Cutting into an jamón ibérico.

Jamón ibérico also called pata negra and carna negra is a type of cured ham produced mostly in Spain, but also in some Portuguese regions. The jamón ibérico may be made from black Iberian pigs, or cross-bred pigs as long as they are at least 75% ibérico.

Foodtruck vendor of Vietnamese eggrolls, called „loempia“ in Dutch. A popular lunchtime snack in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Olive tasting.

Kaas muisje. That is Dutch for „cheese mouse“. Selling traditional cheeses while offering you a taste.

Cheese wheels.

The International Exotic Market on Theater Square with its many offerings of both local, home grown specialties as well as exotic products certainly has a unique atmosphere. A visit to this market is one of many good reasons why you should visit Antwerp on the weekend. We loved to visit, shop and eat there.

Part I of my mini series revolved around the breathtakingly beautiful City of Antwerp itself and can be found here. Part III will focus mainly on one of the most beloved and utterly delightful cookie bakeries in Antwerp and will revolve around an Antwerp cookie specialty. So make sure to look out for Part III. Coming very soon.

* * * *

For more information:
The Exotic Market
Oudevaarplaats, Theaterplein (Theater Square) and surrounding
both local Belgian specialties, as well as Turkish, Maroccan and southern European specialities
2000 Antwerp, BE
every Saturday from 8am-4pm


  1. I love love love your posts Andrea (I sounds like a broken record probably!). You are a wonderful photography and the pictures really tell a story. Thank you for sharing - eagerly awaiting Part 2 and 3 :)

    1. Ahu, you are such a kind person, thank you very much! It certainly makes me a very happy blogger to read that you enjoy my posts - Part III will revolve around those wonderful cookies - I am sure that you will like that post too, it is just taking a bit of time to put together but it will come up very soon.

  2. Markets like this make me so excited and inspired! Cheese wheels! Fresh pasta! Just amazing. I would so love to be there right now. And how vibrant are those dried flowers. So gorgeous.

    1. Trishie, my dear, thank you - these pictures wee taken with th e intention of featuring the faces behind all those wonderful things that you can buy at the market. How nice of you to let me know that you enjoyed the pictures - I love doing these posts every so often, it is a wonderful and fun change from writing about recipes. Besides, I am crazy about shopping at those kinds of markets.

  3. Such a feast for the eyes!
    Those dried flowers are fabulous. I want some for my bedroom!
    Also, is that a hoof I see?!! What kind of animal is that?

    1. Dear Kim, visting this wonderful market is like a feast for the senses indeed - and yes, this is a pig´s foot - or rather an Iberico Ham, a specialty from Spain and the salesperson is trying to cut off slices as thinly as possible.
      Thank you for your kind comment!

  4. What an amazing market Andrea, I have only seen them like this on TV/PBS. I could not believe the dried flowers and even a area for pastas. How fun!!!

    1. Cheri, thank so much! It was a fun post to put together and it is always such a joy to visit these kinds of markets.

  5. What a wonderful market!! LOVE all that produce!

  6. I'll take pasta, dried flowers, and cheese please! What a beautiful market!

    1. And those items you shall have, dear Monet! Thank you fro stopping by!

  7. Wow, what an amazing market!! Such pretty, fresh and colourful displays. I've never been to Belgium but my husband has and he ensures me that it is beautiful. I do hope to get there one day! Glad that you had a wonderful visit. I love your photographs, I almost feel like I've visited myself :) xx

    1. Dear Laura, visting Belgium is great, for us it is a mere two hour drive to go visit Antwerp, four hours if we want to go to Brugge - love both places so much. These pictures were taken on market day, Saturday, and I absolutely wanted to go just to visit the market - that was my "birthday gift" from my family. A nice change from everyday life and what a wonderful place to visit!
      Thanks for stopping by - all the very best for your travels throughout Europe - take a lot of wonderful pictures - I am looking forward to seeing them in your posts!

  8. I have visited many markets including one in Barcelona. I cannot remember ever experiencing any market that looks like this. Loking forward to your cookie tour.

    1. Mary, you would have loved visiting this market, I am sure - it is quite different from the kinds of markets around here and a lot of fun too! Thank you for stopping by!

  9. What a gorgeous market! Visiting markets is one of my favorite things when traveling, and this one looks especially amazing. Ganz liebe Grüße, David

    1. David, it certainly is always special to visit a market - and this one is extra special - it is held in one of my favorite cities!

  10. I love Europe - you can take a day-trip to another country.
    And farmers market is always paradise,right?

    1. Colette, indded the farmers´ markets in Europe are very hard to beat!
      Thanks for stoppping by!

  11. Oh my! I loooooove those tajines! And Antwerp in general, it's only a small ride from where I love. Love the pictures you took!

    1. Hartstokke bedankt, Debs! Middleburg is no that far away from Antwerp, that´s true and actually we made a trip last year starting with a city tour of Antwerp and then driving to Middelburg - an exhausting and wonderful long day!